What to watch: These are the best streaming services available now

Kelsey Chapman
Friday 08 January 2021 15:09
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Streaming is the future, and folks: we're living it.

Many people have long since ditched the traditional cable package in lieu of picking up a few streaming services to supplement their at-home viewing, and with winter coming up and a lot more time indoors looming, now's the time to look at your current subscriptions and consider padding them with a few add-ons (or a total overhaul) to best meet your viewing needs.

Here we've gathered the usual suspects as far as bigwig streaming favorites and thrown in a few unexpected and lesser known players to show you a decent range of what you can find. Whether you're in the mood to binge the newest Netflix series or you want to schedule a slasher film fest in your very own bedroom, check out some of our favorite streaming services below just in time for the binge-watching season. 

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Netflix

The tried-and-true, old faithful, everybody's got it: Netflix. If you're still not sold on the streaming platform now more than two decades after they launched, why?


Netflix began their original programming back in 2013 with the smash hit House Of Cards, and since then have created an empire of hit movies, television shows, documentaries, and shorts. Whether it's the nostalgic thrilled Stranger Things or the introspective surrealism of animated series Bojack Horseman, there's something for everyone in the thousands of programs available. Bonus: It starts at just $8.99 for one screen availability and increases from there depending on how many folks are using your account. 
 

Shudder

With Halloween coming up, more folks will be turning to horror films to get into the spirit of the season and Shudder is custom-made just for that–not to mention year-round scary movie buffs.


Cheaper than Netflix and with a surprisingly diverse roster, Shudder has been around since 2015 and wasted no time in getting out some fun original programming. One particular favorite is the Channel Zero series which takes viewers on a horrifying series of adventures based on popular creepy pastas culled from the web. If you love feeling your skin crawl, this show is worth the cost of a subscription alone.

And that cost is quite low. Plans start at just $4.75 a month, making Shudder one of the most affordable streaming options on the market. Gore-phobics will be happy with the great collection of giallo, thriller, and suspense films, and naturally the body horror fans will delight in an array of domestic and international slasher films from the past 50+ years of cinema. Try it free for a week to get a taste of the bloody good fun.

HBO Max

HBO has long history of providing some of the greatest programming on television. That back library of programming combined with the entire library acquired by WarnerMedia adds up to a lot of top-notch watchables to binge on your lazy weekends with the company's new streaming platform, HBO Max.


HBO Max also has the prestige of being the new kid on the block since it just launched in May of this year. It's one of the pricier premium streamers clocking in at $14.99 a month, but the abundance of choices ranging from old school Sex And The City episodes to classic films dropped straight in from TCM's catalogue means it'll take eons for you to tire of the options. 
 


 

Night Flight

Night Flight was a cult classic television show that ran from 1981 to 1988 on the USA network before moving into syndication in the nineties. In-depth artist profiles, fun episodes full of goofy interludes, and strange and spooky movie showings were the usual fare for this Gen X favorite, and the streaming app launched in 2018 contains all that and more.

Naturally all the episodes from the show's vault are up for grabs, but if you're intered in the world of punk, post-punk, goth, new wave, heavy metal, and other forms of music that were very popular in their day and have since moved into more alternative entertainment, you're in luck. Artists like INXS, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Lydia Lunch, David Bowie, and dozens more are represented with video highlights that include informative narration, and obscure documentaries abound–let's jus say if you've ever wondered about the vampire cults of New Orleans in the early 1990s, you're in luck.

The app starts at $3.33 a month, and the programming is rotated often so there's always something fun and nostalgic to watch. This is easily a top pick for music buffs from any generation.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a convenient way to get free shipping and plenty of deals via the mega-retailer's main site, but the streaming component is equally great if you're looking for a wide variety of programming for the whole family in dozens of genres. 
In addition to having a mind-boggling selection of movies and TV shows past and present, Amazon's original programming is on par with services like Netflix when it comes to quality, entertaining content. Early releases like Mozart In The Jungle and Bosch quickly caught the attention of viewers, and newer shows like Tales From The Loop (think Black Mirror meets Stranger Things) continue to captivate audiences and reel in new subscribers. 
The monthly cost breaks down to around just $8.99, so the packaged accessibility of streaming and customer service perks makes this one of the best values for your money on this list. 
 

Hulu

Hulu is one of the most established of the streaming apps with an estimated number of somewhere around 43,000 television show episodes and 2,500 movies. Multiple plans exist starting at $5.99 for the most basic up to $54.99 for the combination Hulu/Live TV option, making it the perfect affordable add-on to an already full roster of apps if you're already watching Netlflix or Prime.

There's also a bundle option along with Disney+ and ESPN+ (both of which we'll discuss below) for $12.99 a month, which not only gets you access to great new Hulu originals like Little Fires Everywhere or the short-lived but fantastic High Fidelity series but also a plethora of sports and animated kids' movies and series to round out full family programming.

Disney Plus

Disney might be traditionally geared toward more child-friendly entertainment, but the entertainment mammoth's new streaming service Disney+ gives you full access to not only Disney movies but also exclusive Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content that will keep you and the whole family enthralled for years.

Exclusives are one of the highlights of the platform, from their initial big draw with Star Wars series The Mandalorian to Beyonce's recent visual album Black Is King. On top of that, access to all the classic animated films Disney has churned out over the several decades will strike a serious chord of nostalgia for many, so no viewer will be left unsatisfied by the unending options.

Peacock Premium

NBC and telemundo fanatics rejoice: this is the app for you.

Whether you're keen to binge your favorite NBC series from throughout the years or you're looking for exciting new originals to discover, the brand new streaming service combines the long-running expertise of one of television's biggest names with new technology and accessibility to create a platform catered to you. This app is also great for live sports, so one of you can indulge the latest episode of a primetime soap opera or comedy in one room while another checks out football in another.

Pricing tiers start at $4.99 a month/$49.99 a year for shows with ads, and bumping up to $9.99 a month/$99.99 annually cuts those out entirely.

YouTube Premium

YouTube, for many, has replaced lots of the traditional style programming we're used to as consumer. Anyone can be their own TV or movie star with a phone and idea, and some of those self-made micro celebrities are just as entertaining as the actors we see in the big leagues. 
With the premium version of the app, you skip the pesky ads that often come mid-video and interrupt the experience. You can also leave the video playing in the background while you switch between ads, and you can download all your favorite subscriptions and watch them offline if your commute takes you underground or you've got a long flight without wifi ahead of you. 
A generous three-month free trial is available for those interested, so click below and get started finding your favorite new vloggers and other informative YouTube stars today. 
 

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